Finally got to see Crimson Peak (thank you, Amazon Instant Video!) and thought it was a great flick. For some reason, the film has been marketed as a horror movie when I would classify it as more of a Gothic romance or possibly a period thriller. Think “Jane Eyre” or “Rebecca” with more gore and you’ll have a better idea of what the film is about.
Edyth Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is a young American heiress and aspiring writer who falls for an impoverished British aristocrat, Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), and accompanies him back to to England to his ancestral home, Allerdale Hall. Once there, Edyth finds that life at Allerdale is not what she expected. The manor house is more than decaying–it’s a carcass of a mansion with a major hole in the roof and red clay squelching up through the floorboards from the mine below. Thomas’s sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), is most unwilling to give up her place as her brother’s housekeeper and is actively antagonistic toward Edyth. Thomas himself is obsessed with the design of his clay mining machine during the day and at night forsakes her bed, presumably for his workshop. The more Edyth learns about the house and its secrets, the more she begins to fear for her life.
From the beginning, it’s clear that brooding, Byronic leading man, Thomas Sharpe, has a Dark Secret, but what is his Evil Plan? Is he just another British fortune hunter looking to marry money in order to prop up his family’s mining business? What is up with his sister, Lucille, who definitely seems to be his co-conspirator? And what are we (or Edyth) to make of the corpse ghosts who keep showing up?
A side note: as an audio archivist, I gave an excited squee when Edyth discovers a batch of wax cylinder recordings hidden in a closet. At this point in time, wax cylinder recordings were real cutting edge technology–the kind of thing that only the wealthy could afford–so it’s not surprising that Sharpe should have some. A nice little touch and, as it happens, A Clue.
According to the producers, Jessica Chastain was initially approached to play the part of Edyth Cushing. While I can see why Jessica would prefer the meatier Lucille role to the heroine-in-peril role of Edyth, I think it would have been interesting to see her and Hiddleston together. The two actors make a great on-screen couple and Mia would have been very creepifying in the Lucille role.